Instead of talking about that, I'm going to relate instead my experiences with a certain part of the internet that has been exercising me greatly in the last few days. It is nothing other than the proliferation of blogs belonging to women (I think I can safely say they're ALL women) who write Jane Austen fanfic.
They don't call it Jane Austen fanfic, of course. They call these barques of intrepid genius sequels - and lolariously, each of them refers to their sequel as 'the' sequel. But they ARE fanfic. Unlike fanfic they are generally just bad, at least from the excerpts. (Fanfic has a rollicking bell curve, from HIDEOUS to actual near-on genius. Not so here; everything is painfully average.) I've read two published ones as well, but I actually thought they were rare. MORE FOOL ME. I went looking for Pride and Prejudice fanfic about a year ago and came up empty-handed. Now I know the reason: people have copped that you can charge for it.
What I find oddest about these 'authors' is how weirdly they approach Austen's work. One of them keeps quoting from the novels as if they were factual sets of opinions that Austen had just strung together. I know we all love lambasting authors for being crap with women, POC, rape etc, but when it comes right down to it, unless expressly stated, opinions in a book are the opinions of the characters, not the author. Sure, they might tally closely - or exactly, if you're inclined to self-insertion - but technically they can't be taken as the author's one true stance on ANYTHING.
One hates Fanny Dashwood, and said she fastforwards the first scene in Emma Thompson's version of S&S where Fanny talks John out of giving his sisters any money. Aside from the fact that the scene is superlative, in dialogue, setting, action and acting ... hating the 'evil' characters - whether Fanny, Mrs Norris or Lady Catherine - seems to me to defeat the purpose of liking Austen at all. Anyone could have written Elizabeth and Darcy. It takes an extremely talented connoisseur of human folly to create Mr and Mrs Bennet.
Someone - I think on ferretbrain - said once that Jane Austen hated everyone. I can totally accept this take. I meet a LOT of people in my line of work and I hate most of them. I don't think you can write the way she did without at least a kernel of hardcore bitterness. If she'd been a man in a larger world she might not have the Elizabeths, Elinors or Annes, but I think the secondary characters would have stayed. They make the books for me. It's a shame that modern romance authors of all stripes use the tried-and-tested and utterly boring paths that those heroines trod and don't explore the far more interesting, and numerically more common, motorways of the Mr Collinses of this world.
One blogger/author wanted Lady Catherine to get her comeuppance in her 'the' sequel. Er, I'm not sure how you could top HAVING HER SUPER-DOOPER ARRANGED MARRIAGE PLANS SCUPPERED. One blogger/author said she followed the plot of Persuasion with utmost pedantry so she could make sure every plot-point tallied in her 'the' sequel. The first line of her blurb? States that Anne Elliot's FATHER was the one who convinced her to give up Wentworth. DING DING, WRONG ANSWER. I'm pretty sure that Anne would have gone ahead with the engagement had she Lady Russell's blessing, but the point is moot; it's Lady Russell that Wentworth despises. He and Anne both see that Sir Walter is nothing more than a blustering nincompoop. This same author 'interviews' Anne Elliot to promote her novel. It was the weirdest and most disturbing thing I've ever read, even allowing for the fact that the woman has no hold on Anne's character whatsoever.
Many of you, like myself, probably adore the multiple adaptations of Jane Austen films, like Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, and well…Persuasion. Yet, how many of you have the patience to tackle the Napoleonic-Era verbiage novels? Thus came my inspiration to introduce my friends to the magic of Jane’s pen in a language a modern day woman can relate to.
It's not that I have no words. I have MANY words. Most of them are FUCK. The rest are YOU.
I'm pretty sure this can all be blamed on Colin Firth. These women want to self-insert into Jennifer Ehle's shoes so they can see His Wetness up close. That's fair enough, but I'm surprised they don't acknowledge it ... then again, how many people acknowledged that it was Tom Felton that turned them on to Draco Malfoy, not JK's superb and subtle rendering of a bully with a heart of gold (or whatever)? In my case, it was fandom that turned me on to him, but Tom Felton sure did help.
Me? I'd take Mr Bennet any day.
... and in a semi-related note, could Andrew Davies maybe stop writing the scripts to EVERY AUSTEN ADAPTATION EVER? He wasn't bad in P&P, maybe because he stuck pretty much exactly to the book's dialogue, but when he was left loose on S&S his deficits really started to show. I'm about to watch the Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey he wrote and, well, I'm apprehensive. (Also because BILLIE PIPER.)